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Hamilton to triumph and retire, says McLaren boss

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 13, 2020 Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton (C) takes part in the End Racism event ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in the Emirati city of Abu Dhabi on. – Lewis Hamilton begins his bid for an unprecedented eighth drivers’ championship this week, facing a cluster of challenges to his crown as Formula One launches its cost-cutting era with a record 23-race global calendar (Photo by HAMAD I MOHAMMED / POOL / AFP)

Lewis Hamilton is set to claim an unprecedented eighth drivers’ world title – and then leave Mercedes and retire from Formula One, predicted rival team boss Zak Brown of McLaren.

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Brown, the architect of McLaren’s resurgence after a spell in the doldrums, told the Daily Mail he believed Max Verstappen of Red Bull and George Russell of Williams will be recruited by Mercedes in an all-new line-up for 2022.

He added that he would not be keen to offer Hamilton a return to McLaren next year because he was building the team for the future with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Brown explained that it would be “bad timing” if Hamilton wanted to find a seat next year.

The seven-time champion’s decision to sign only a one-year contract with Mercedes has made his future the subject of intense speculation as the F1 circus prepares for the start of a record 23-race season to run under Covid-19 restrictions.

“If I had an opening, would I put Lewis in the car? Of course, but we are trying to build for the future — hence this kind of youth-and-experience combination,” Brown was quoted saying.

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“You feel if you brought Lewis back now it would be for a one or two-year journey and we know we are not ready to compete for championships, so we need to set up a driver line-up that gets us to that position and that when we reach it they are ready.

“Daniel is ready now, of course. I don’t think the timing is right for Lewis.”

On Mercedes future plans, he added: “I think you will see Max and George there in 2022. I think that’s the obvious conclusion.

“Lewis wins title No 8 this year and is the winningest driver in every category. They have a one-year deal with him. George is coming out of his deal and Max has a deal he comes out of.

“You have Max’s experience and youth. You have George’s youth. If I’m Mercedes, that’s a pretty ‘killer line-up’ for the next five years.”

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